3 Stories, 3 Submissions, 3 Updates

Hello,

I managed to finish the two stories I was working on in time to submit them to their competitions. It was down to the wire, and if I’m honest they could have used more time, but I’m happy I pressed myself and finished. Better yet, that strange story I was working on in Writing Partner: Working With a Group, Part 2 has now been submitted to a contest as well. So I’ve started the year off running. I managed to get 2 shorts published last year; I want to at least double that this year. I think this is a good start toward that goal.

Next on the agenda is finishing this edit of my book. I’m still putting together the writing partners for this work, they are really fiddly, but I can’t wait to show them off! After that, it might be time for a professional editor to take over. I was thinking of using one of the resources on Reedsy for that but if any of you have experience in this realm, leave me a comment. Any information will help.

For now, though, I’m going to spend the weekend on my podcast. He Plays She Plays has been on hiatus for too long. Like everything else, I’ll give you a full update when we finish what we’re working on.

He Play She Plays Podcast

Talk to you again soon!

Mazes: A Weekend Double-Feature

Hello all,

It’s been a while since my last post. January was another month where life got in the way of writing. I’m thankful I have stable employment, especially during such a trying time. Still, over the last month, it took a bit more out of me than usual. Truth be told, I haven’t had much time to write or edit in the last few weeks.

Excuses aside, I’d like to hit the ground running again, so I’m working on two new short stories this weekend. They are both intended for a contest on the theme of labyrinths, but they have very little in common beyond the inspiration for them.  I’ll have to check the fine print on multiple entries for this competition. Worst case scenario, I’ll just pick the one that turns out best.

I haven’t chosen a writing partner for this weekend because I’m still building the set intended for my next act’s worth of novel editing. But I should have that ready to show you soon, along with an update on my novel. Until then, if you’re itching to read some of my other content, please check out my works page. I’ve got a lot planned for 2021; that page should be much more interesting soon!

Writing Partner: Working With a Group, Part 2

Warhammer Underworld's Garrek's Reaver's Painted

Hello,

As I discussed in my last post, I took a break from my book to write a new short story. It was a weird one and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Well, I finished! It’s also turned out quite well. What’s more surprising is that this project’s writing partners turned out pretty nicely in their own right.

Warhammer Underworld's Garrek's Reaver's Painted

This crew of rowdy wildmen were good company while constructing my story. The Underworld’s line is always a joy to paint. Even this group, which is just a bunch of marauders, is surprisingly detailed.

Painted Warhammer Marauder
Painted Warhammer marauder

All the little scars and details really bring out the character in these minis. It’s like the small connective tissues of a story. A reference here, a flourish there. Scars showing old, aching wounds.

I’ve already found a contest to enter my new story in. It needs a bit more polish and I’d like to get a few more opinions on it before I can call it truly finished. But, it does mean I’ll be getting back to my book this weekend. That means picking a new writing partner. Act two of my book begins with a rather grisly revelation, I will need to consider that when making my decision.

Writing Partner: Working with a group

Hello all,

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m roughly one-third finished the current draft of my novel. It’s going surprisingly well, and the people doing the beta read have been giving me some great feedback. Part of this process has been working with a writing circle on fine-tuning my prose.

I’m not sure if I’ve brought this up before, but I took a break from prose prior to last year and was instead writing screenplays. Because of this, I’m a bit rusty when it comes to writing narration. It’s the natural side effect of focusing on dialogue for roughly 5 years.

Overall I’d say it’s going well. Each progressive chapter has fewer and fewer notes. I’ve been applying the comments as I go so the first 10 chapters are looking pretty polished.

As a reward to myself, I decided to take a break this week and work on a new short story. As usual, it’s a weird one. A strange combination of the occult stuff I tend to write and click-baiting, meme inducing, article titles. Because I suddenly had a new story on my hands, I proceeded to the next step. You know what it is.

I had to pick a writing partner. In this case, I wanted to work with the theme of the week and my new story’s themes. Teamwork, and the summoning of dark gods…

Meet Garrek’s Reavers:

Garrek's Reavers Unpainted
I started painting these before I realized I was going to write a blog about them. So credit to the following eBay post for the unpainted picture: Garrek’s Reavers.

Garrek’s Reavers, are a Warband from Games Workshop’s Underworld’s line. As such, they are easy to construct, affordable, and very detailed. I like these warbands because they are varied but still have a theme to pull the set together. In the case of Garrek’s Reavers, they are a group of chaos marauders who worship the god of war Khorne. Not an exact match to my story, but the team angle is what hooked me this time.

I have already finished priming them and adding the first coat of all the main colors. I did this while I outlined my short story. My job today is to fill out all the detail in both my story and this Warband. If the story turns out well, I might enter into a contest. As for the minis, I’ll show you the results either way. I never claimed to be a professional painter!

I hope to have this done soon, so expect an update in the coming days!

The Boneless: Published

I’m writing today to share some good news: one of my recent short stories has been published!

I wrote “The Boneless” for a horror journal called Coffin Bell, for their issue on myth and legend. I was really happy with the result so I’m glad more people will now get to read it.

Here is a link if you want to read my story: The Boneless.

Thank you, and Happy Halloween!

Some Assembly Required

The crib was one of those kit builds. Just twelve pieces total and all the hardware was included. Even so, John struggled with it. He was not terribly handy, at least not in the traditional sense. As he worked, sweat ran down his body, stinging the cuts and scrapes on his arms. Fatherhood was trying but rewarding. His son was his whole world now and it was all worth it.

When strangers met his boy, they always said he looked like his father. They even suggested he took after his personality, his mannerisms. John wanted it to be true, but he knew it wasn’t. The truth was the boy took after his mother. John winced as he nailed in a support. His side still hurt, but it was crucial that the crib was strong. Even with his lack of craftsmanship, he knew it needed to be made stronger.

John was not accustomed to caring for an infant, and he had never expected to do it alone. Still, he was proud of his work. He was proud of his boy. John completed the final modifications to the crib. He hoped the metal mesh would hold. It was supposed to be for chickens, but it was stronger than it looked. The full moon was coming, and he didn’t want to resort to barbed wire again.

Writing Partner: A Killing Machine

Painted D&D Iron Golem Miniature

It took a couple of weeks but I have finally finished my new short story. This one is a case horror story about an every day item posed with intent and malice. As I promised I worked to refurbish my poor abused Iron golem as my writing partner for this project.

As a reminder, this is where we started:

Iron Golem mini

After a couple sessions of layering and tarnishing it, here is the completed golem:

Painted D&D Iron Golem Miniature

Over all, I think it turned out pretty good. As good as an old, rusty, souless guardian can be at least. There are a few things I would have liked to fix but I think they would have required striping the mini and that wasn’t in the spirit of this project.

My short story focuses a lot on sound and I like to imagine what it sounds like for this golem to walk. I moves slowly, joints grinding together, almost screaming, as particles of rust flake off. It would be painful if it was alive. But it is not alive, you are. As it slowly and inexorably moves toward you know that the only thing it wants, needs, is to balance out that equation.

Painted D&D Iron Golem Miniature Sword

Imagine the sound of it sharpening its blade. Grinding the cutting edge against the plate armor of its forearm. Even with this effort, it is still far too dull to make clean cuts anymore.

The antagonistic machine of my story has no blade. It has no way of doing harm directly. Instead, it poisons minds and souls. Lulling its victims in to heinous acts through its cunning and its voice. It might not have a sword, but its intent is deadly sharp.

I’m going to submit this story to one competition and one journal. Both are ok with multiple submission entries so I’m going to hedge my bets. I have been finding the response times this year have been painfully slow, another consequence of the new world we live in, but I’ll let you know if it gets picked up. If it doesn’t I’ll find another way to get it to you.

I’ll have a post discussing my October plans up in the next week. I plan on shifting gears for the remainder of the year, but don’t worry, there will still be plenty to discuss.

Writing Partner: Two For One Rehabilitation Special

D&D Iron Golem and Copper Dragon mini

After a hard month at my day job, I’m finally back to a point where I can focus on my creative work again. I’m not kidding, it was a rough month – at one point I worked eleven, nine hour days in a row. But now I’m back and craving that sweet storytelling fix.

Because August was a fairly dry month creatively, I really want to hit the ground running. Beyond getting back to the 3rd draft of my book, I have two new short stories to work on. For those of you who have read a few of my blogs before, you know this means finding a couple of painting projects that fit my stories. In the spirit of refreshing new beginnings, I have decided to pick a couple old minis that could use a fresh coat of paint.

Project Number 1: A Deadly Construct!

Iron Golem mini

This poor golem has seen better days. I bought it on a whim (it is an Iron Golem from the WizKids line) and ended up using him to test paint markers. I do, however, think this will work as a base for what will be a weathered, ancient golem when I’m done.

The story it is paired with is for a contest inspired by Steven King’s flair for making every day things seem otherworldly and scary. The contest cites Christine and Cujo, but my mind went to The Mangler. Something about a normal machine with the desire to kill speaks to that bit of my brain that is far too willing to personify objects.

Project Number 2: A Pretentious Dragon!

D&D Copper Dragon mini

This poor brass dragon (also Wizkids) was the sad result of neglect. I was working on him during a group painting night and was much more focused on the social aspect of the event than my dragon. He was also my second mini of the night, so he got far less time and much more tired eyes. The result was far too much shader on a mini that, let’s face it, is already lacking in definition. I’m going to need to grab lighter versions of the red and copper I used and slowly build definition into the paint job.

This mini will be matched with a story about the character who originally inspired my color scheme. He’s one of the dragons from my own fantasy universe and, while he does not appear in my book, he’s an important part of the world he lives in. He’s also a huge hipster, and when I saw a contest pop up for hipster fantasy stories, it was a no-brainer.

Those are my two main projects for September. I’ll write up a post for the results of each. I’m pretty confident I can pull off the stories, but let’s see if I can fix those messy minis I ruined!

Writing Partner: Mythic Goals Sometimes Require An Army

AGE OF SIGMAR FEAST OF BONES

A new weekend has come, bringing with it new opportunities to spend long hours on a new project. For the next couple of weeks I will be working on entries for a horror publication doing a special issue on the theme of mythology. for this I plan to write one short story (somewhere between 2500 and 3000 words) one flash fiction story (roughly 500 words max) and a poem (likely a Shakespearean sonnet as that’s my preferred format). None of these are daunting tasks but getting them all done before the end of the month will take some discipline.

For this task I knew it would be hard to pick a writing partner. I’m going to be writing multiple pieces with only the genre of horror and the theme of myth connecting them. No one miniature would do. Some tasks need an army. This one needed two.

AGE OF SIGMAR FEAST OF BONES

I’ve had this box on my shelf since it came out. It is the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Feast of Bones set which contains a small army for both the Ogors Mawtribes and Ossiarch Bonereapers. It is a big set with a ton of really fun minis in it. As my side project I hope to have this box constructed and primed before the end of the month.

As I have mentioned before I don’t play a lot of Warhammer and tend to use the minis more for RPGs. So for this project we’re aiming for variety, both in writing and in miniatures. I’m not a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar Ossiarch Bonereaver Army

The skellington army has a lot of variety that requires very little effort on my part to bring out. This is true for both construction and how I would use them in games. For example: the main leader unit would make a very nice lich in any game. He is the one in the front carrying around his crumbling tomb.

The Mortarchs (the flying bois) work as either strange gods or undead angels. They come with two different weapon options, two single hand weapons or the large glaives. I can make one of each option without it costing me any extra time or effort.

The three Necropolis Stalkers (those weird skeletal constructs) can work as advanced bone golems or a variety of other constructs with a bit of imagination. They come in three very distinct configurations and plan to build one of each. In games I can see them guarding ancient treasure, being the discovered life’s work of a mad mage, or as the main event in some twisted black market auction. Great stuff.

Last but not least there are ten basic Mortek Guard. These guys are a bit fancy to be basic skeletons but I’m a big fan of skeletal champions and more advanced undead. I imagine them guarding a really powerful necromancer or a lich. There is a lot of variety in this kit; spears, sword and board, banner bearers etc. I plan to build at least one of each variable over the ten minis.

The straightforwardness of these kits really matches my ideas for the poem and flash fiction. Variety out of the box, easy to create, should be no problem. It gets more complicated with the short story and our second army.

Warhammer Age Of Sigmar Ogor Mawtribes

The ogors are tricky. With fewer minis and lots of options I need to either make some hard choices are do some time consuming kit-bashing. For the uninitiated, kit-bashing is when you take pieces from different minis and use them to construct something new. I usually do it to make interesting leaders and heroes out of basic infantry units.

The leader, the Ogor Tyrant, is a great miniature. I’m uncertain as to how he fights with both a spear and a hammer, but I’d love to write about it. I imagine I would use him as the final boss for a short mid level campaigns. He’s unsophisticated but deadly in close combat and commands loyalty through fear in his forces. He also requires no extra work which is nice.

The basic infantry kits (if creatures that big could be called that) can be constructed as either Ogor Gluttons (melee units) or Leadbelchers (ranged units). These minis can be used in a variety of story scenarios. They fit in anywhere where you need a stronger than average leader or as a group of heavies supporting a bigger bad. There are 8 of them and the units break down in units of 6 for the Gluttons and units of 2 for the Leadbelchers. So the math is easy right? Not entirely. Looking through each kit I found the Leadbelcher had four unique guns, all of which are pretty cool. So then I thought, “ok, I’ll just make 4 leadbenchers and kitbash them with some extra hand weapons on their backs or something.” That way if I ever do play them in Warhammer I can use them for either unit. Then I noticed how many different Gluttons were possible. They have all kinds of really neat weapons too. I could magnetize them… but that would take too long. So when I go to assemble they ogors I have some hard choices to make.

The choice for the large siege weapon is easy, the Ironblaster shown in the image above is way cooler then the alternate Gnoblar Scarplauncher (a goblin catapult). In my experience siege weapons don’t come up often in RPGs but I’m sure I’ll find a way to use it for a set piece some day. At least that’s one easy choice, right? Not really. looking over the kit I’m now wondering if there are enough bits to build the catapult as a separate mini with some creative kit-bashing. With these kinds of things I just can’t help myself. There is a phrase my friend came up with years ago while reviewing one of my scripts. He liked the ending as a concept but didn’t know how I could pull it off. He said I had to “circle square it.” This has become a common turn of phrase now in my inner circle and it essentially means making a round peg fit into a square hole. It’s possible, but extremely challenging. I like challenge, in-spite of what this will inevitably do to my time table.

Speaking of time table ruining, look at all those decorative gnoblars (goblins). You can see one of them on lookout in the awesome banner bearer shown in the full army picture above as well as a ton more in the picture below. There are a ton of them… and I’d hate to just use them as intended. So I’ve textured up another ten bases and I’m going to see how many of them I can reuse as new goblin miniatures. They are too unique to pass up, full of character and interesting gear. I can imagine them leading or supporting more standard goblins in battle. However, this means another circle to square and a whole new force to construct… with a potential centerpiece of their own if I can figure out the stupid catapult.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 99120213020_GutbustersScraplauncher01.jpg
Oh no… there is a little goblin on the front shooting a sling shot. I can’t just leave him behind.

Three forces for three projects and only two weeks to work on it. What could go wrong. Well, some of you might point out that it probably wasn’t wise to spend this much time talking out how to construct this box of plastic armymen when I should be writing. Well… maybe. But in the time it took to write this I have written outlines for all three writing projects, I textured all the bases and organized all of the kits into piles by unit and in the order I plan to tackle them. It’s only procrastination if it doesn’t help you focus. There is a method to my madness.

Wish me luck!

Writing Partner: Traveling with an Octopus

I finished my travel writing story and I’m pretty happy with it! Fingers crossed it makes the top ten for the contest I entered. I’m also pretty happy with how my octopus turned out.

D&D Octopus miniature painted eye

I think he it turned out pretty good. As I worked out the details for each of the Pine Island locations I talked about, I layered on the base coats. That laid the framework for both the octopus and my narrative.

Next I took the real life stories and I gave them all an edge. Turning what was childhood misunderstandings and half forgotten memories into something more sinister. With the octopus I did this by choosing a pattern that indicated its venomous nature rather than the more nature red color most people pick for this mini.

D&D Octopus miniature painted
I tried to make the pattern symmetrical but I had to cheat a couple times.

Next I had to take a loose series of stories about an area and turn them into a cohesive narrative. To do this I used a common horror trope, the unreliable narrator. Though in this case he isn’t so much unreliable as he is biased. The octopus is unreliable though. Turn your back on it for a moment and suddenly you’ll be engulfed.

D&D Octopus miniature painted attacking

That was a fun week of writing and painting. However, as usual, there is no time to rest. I have my eye on another publication with a new theme to work with. Here’s a hint: it’s of mythic proportions.